Thomas Sowell

With American parents and voters increasingly concerned about the actual outcomes of the kind of education provided in our public schools, the education establishment in general and the teachers' unions in particular have responded verbally, rather than by teaching the basics. If the public is concerned about outcomes, then the education establishment's answer is to create the phrase "outcomes-based education" -- with the outcomes being defined in mushy, non-academic terms.

You want accountability? Then they will use the word "accountability" over and over again -- all the while continuing to keep the schools and the teachers immune from any adverse consequences for failure. Indeed, every failure is used as a reason why more money is needed. The teachers' unions -- and the politicians beholden to them for campaign contributions and votes, like Al Gore -- call this "investing" in the education of our young people. It makes a blank check for failure sound noble.

The supreme chutzpah of the teachers' unions is their claim that voucher schools are not "accountable" because there are no education establishment bureaucrats micro-managing them or snarling them in red tape. Is your local grocery store unaccountable because there are no bureaucrats telling them how much detergent to sell or what kinds of cheese to stock? On the contrary, it is accountable to you, because you will take your business elsewhere if they don't do their job right. That is precisely the kind of accountability that voucher schools have -- and that public schools do not have.

Another scare tactic of the teachers' unions is to claim that vouchers will require more money, draining money not only from the public schools but also from police and fire departments. In reality, vouchers never pay as much as the public schools spend per pupil. When students leave the public schools, the total costs of education go down, not up. But lies are the norm in propaganda.

Unfortunately, years of dumbed-down education may have left many people without the intellectual equipment to see through the self-serving propaganda of the teachers' unions.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate